Should Video Games Permit Three-Player Arm Wrestling?

Yesterday, I found the line between reality and unreality that video games would not cross. It involved arm wrestling.

I was visiting the offices of a public relations firm in Manhattan on Thursday to check out early builds of upcoming games from the publisher Hudson Entertainment. Among those was Deca Sports DS, the first portable game of the Deca Sports line. My only previous significant exposure to Deca Sports was procuring a copy of the first Wii game in the sports mini-game series for my young sister-in-law a couple of Christmases ago.

I expected a breezy good time from Deca Sports DS. After a glance at the fact sheet I was handed about the game, I also expected Bobsled, Cheerleading, Wall Climbing, Golf, Sepak Takraw, Rugby, Clay Shooting, Sky Diving, Ping Pong and Arm Wrestling. And I expected the games to be playable across multiple wirelessly-connected DSes. I was told some sports supported up to six players using a single DS cartridge.

I had one other hope: I also expected that maybe the public relations person showing me the game, the second reporter checking the game out and I could all play a match of arm-wrestling together.

I expected three-person arm wreslting, because, for a second I was thinking in a video game way, not a real-world way. In the real world, only two people can arm wrestle each other at a time. I can't imagine how it would work with three people unless it was two-vs-one, with the "one" using both of their arms. In video games, however, you can have three-player matches of all sorts of games — so why not arm-wrestling?

No, I was told. Deca Sports DS arm wrestling is a two-player affair. I consented and faced off against the other reporter. To arm-wrestle we had to scribble back and forth on our DSes to gain an advantage. Then, we had to time our taps on a golf-swing-style power meter to power our way to victory.

Two-player video game arm wrestling was kind of silly and fun enough. But I left unsure if I'd been unreasonable to wonder if we could have a three-player option.

We already don't expect our video games to be that realistic, not in terms of how high our heroes can jump or how many gunshots it takes to kill a man. We agree, sometimes, to have our virtual basketballs blaze with flame and our race cars to keep driving after they should have exploded. But sometimes we call for reality. We want those cars to stop driving when they break, those basketball players to get tired when they dunk.

Would we want three people to arm-wrestle each other, even if it just makes no real-world sense? I don't know. But I wouldn't mind seeing someone — or some three — try.

Deca Sports DS is set for release this spring.


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